Germany’s new Defence Minister assumes office amid Ukraine arms debate
Germany’s new Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius, assumed office and held his first meetings with allies on Thursday as Berlin faced an urgent decision about whether to send German-made battle tanks to Ukraine.
The Defence Ministry said Pistorius spoke on the phone with his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu, immediately after he was sworn in.
“France is our closest ally and oldest friend in the European Union. Paris and Berlin have been working closely together for decades, also in security policy,” Pistorius said.
His first visitor was the U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
On Friday the two officials were scheduled to lead a meeting of allies at a U.S. military base in Ramstein to discuss further weapons for Ukraine, and in particular, the much-debated delivery of Leopard two battle tanks.
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Germany and the United States were standing shoulder to shoulder as so often in history, Pistorius said as he welcomed Austin.
Austin praised Germany as one of the U.S.’ most important allies and thanked the German government for its support for Ukraine and the rapid reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank.
Kiev is pleading with Berlin to provide its Leopard two tanks in order to push back Russian forces some 11 months after the war began.
Scholz had said Russia’s invasion constituted a “Zeitenwende,” or turning point, prompting a massive reinvestment in the military.